Who Stands With Mizzou?
Racist incidents in American streets have been nothing but top headlines in the recent past, but today a new variation of the same racism has been gripping headlines before the Paris attacks. Several racist incidents at the University of Missouri have been reported; these include calling Missouri Students Association president Peyton Head racial slurs as he walked near campus, calling the Legion of Black Collegians the N-word during a rehearsal for homecoming ceremonies, and just three weeks later, drawing a swastika with human feces at a university residence hall.
The issues lie not only in the actions of the perpetrators, but also the administration, which chose to stay tacit in the wake of the attention-grabbing incidents. After the incident at homecoming rehearsal, students of the Concerned Student 1950 group blocked university President Tim Wolfe’s vehicle in the homecoming parade as a confrontational motion. The driver revved the engine and bumped into a graduate student, Jonathan Butler.
On November 2nd, Jonathan Butler, began a hunger strike, which he says he will continue until he dies or Wolfe steps down. In support of Butler, Concerned Student 1950 has also come up with a few demands to follow President Wolfe’s resignation. They include:
a mandatory racial awareness and inclusion curriculum for all students, faculty, and staff directed by a board of color
development and implementation of a 10-year plan to create a more inclusive campus
increase of in the percentage of black faculty and staff to 10% by 2017
hiring more staff, particularly those of color, for the social justice center and MU Counseling Center
In response to these demands, President Wolfe apologized and acknowledged that he should have exited the vehicle and approached the students during the homecoming parade incident so as not to make it seem as if he did not care.
Nonetheless, last Friday, a group of University of Missouri students approached President Wolfe and asked him for his definition of systematic oppression. In response, President Wolfe said, “Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success.” This prompted the students to respond shocked and confused, “Did you just blame us for systematic oppression, Tim Wolfe?”
Following the incident, President Wolfe stated that a roundtable discussion should be held to ensure meaningful progress on the issue in a safe and welcoming environment without misunderstandings. On Monday, following the meeting, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin’s resignations.
In response to the incident at the University of Missouri, people like Katherine Timpf, a reporter for the National Review, are flocking to harshly criticize today’s college students. Timpf wrote in a recent article, “College students are being conditioned to believe that their emotional health is the rest of the world’s responsibility, that they have the inalienable right to feel totally comfortable at all times and that everywhere they walk, it had better damn well be on sunshine — or else someone is going to have to do something about it.”
In another light, students from hundreds of colleges across the nation have pledged to “stand with Mizzou” and support the dire need for change on the University of Missouri’s campus as well as their own. Even President Obama, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, openly supported the protesters at the University of Missouri, but also urged them to listen to everyone’s perspective and not just their own in order to increase the effectiveness of their campaign and make college campuses across the country safer, well aware, and more inclusive for all students.